A number of people responded to the previous article inquiring regarding the issue of the lift-and-cut shavers. Many asked, if the lenient authorities permit any shaver with a guard because the blade does not make direct contact with the skin, why are many stringent when it comes to these specific models?
The problem with these shavers originates from the companies description of their unique feature. Traditionally, electric shavers provided a less smooth result than a simple razor, precisely for the reasons we discussed previously, because the thickness of the screen prevents the blade from cutting the hair at the surface of the skin. As thin as they made the screen and guard, mechanical shavers remained an inferior option to the general public due to their inferior results.
To rectify this, Norelco introduced the Rotatract shaver (later renamed the Lift-and-Cut) which was comprised of a double ring of blades. They claimed, and showed in illustrations, that the upper blade would notch and lift the hair while the bottom one would cut it. This lifting process would draw more of the hair into the machine and enable it to cut deeper than was previously accessible.
The question arose, when the hair is drawn into the shaver, does it pull any skin with it? While their illustration appeared to show the skin remaining flat, experience shows that pulling a hair always draws the surrounding skin along with it. If this skin would enter the holes and touch the blade, this would unanimously lead to the transgression of a Biblical prohibition.
Based on this, many Poskim forbade the Lift-and Cut shavers despite permitting electric shavers in principle. Some authorities question whether these shavers really do anything unique or it is all advertising hype. Additionally, they doubt whether any skin can really fit through the holes of the guard.
Again, each person should follow his Rav, but I personally would not recommend risking an Issur d’Oraisa when the lenient position seems to be based on speculation, and there are alternatives.
It is important to note that it would appear that Norelco no longer uses the name “Lift-and-Cut”, but has not necessarily abandoned the mechanic. It requires clarification precisely which models are still using this technology. Furthermore, to the best of my knowledge “Lift-and-Cut” is a Norelco/Phillips trademark. Other brands may use similar mechanics without any indication in their description.
It is my understanding that these issues are only applicable to the rotary-head shavers, but not to those which use a vibrating head such as Braun. If this is no longer accurate, I would appreciate being updated.